Cleveland, Ohio-- A two-goal third period lead with Carter Hutton in goal seemed to be a perfect scenario for the Rockford IceHogs to get back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Instead, inept special teams coughed up three third period tallies and the IceHogs fell 4-3 to the Lake Erie Monsters at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Rockford failed to pick up any points in the standings during their two-game set in Lake Erie and remain in the 12th spot in the Western Conference with just three games remaining.
With Rockford up 3-0 late in the second Lake Erie began their comeback while on the power play. David van der Gulik’s third attempt in front of Hutton slipped past the IceHogs goalie and in at 17:57 to make it 3-1 at the second intermission.
Rockford’s lead was reduced to a goal with a shorthanded goal from the Monsters early in the third. Justin Mercier picked off a Ben Youds pass at the Rockford blueline and fired his 14th marker of the season over the glove of Hutton at 3:54.
A costly five-minute boarding penalty by Mark McNeill gave the Monsters a lengthy power play midway through third period and they would tally twice. Brad Malone tied the game when Ryan Stoa fed him the puck on the right face-off and he buried the equalizer past Hutton at 12:30.
Later on the same power play, Dean Stong would put Lake Erie in front for the first time on Saturday. Strong tapped in an Evan Brophey feed on the weak side of the Rockford goal at 14:29 for the game-winning tally.
After a scoreless first frame, Rockford’s power play put them up 1-0 in the second. Phillip Danault picked up a Brandon Pirri rebound and fed Jeremy Morin on the backdoor where the winger banged in his 17th goal of the season at 3:44 of the middle stanza.
Later in the frame Rockford struck twice more to extend their lead to 3-0. Ryan Stanton one-timed a Brandon Svendsen centering pass from in between the face-off circles to beat Cedrick Desjardins five-hole at 11:07 for his third goal of the season.
Then 1:19 later, Peter LeBlanc extended the IceHogs lead to 3-0. LeBlanc picked up a pass from Connor Goggin and blasted his 23rd tally of the season over the shoulder of Desjardins from the right circle at 12:26.
Rockford was outshot 29-24 in the game and the IceHogs went 1-4 on the power play while Lake Erie finished 3-7. Lake Erie swept the four-game season series with Rockford and Rockford dropped their record against the AHL’s North Division to 3-7-1-1.